We’ve been to Aspen a couple of times and have thoroughly enjoyed each occasion. The great thing about Aspen is that it has managed to keep that small town feel despite its popularity. The town is host to several large scale events such as the Winter X Games and the FOOD and WINE Classic, but it has a lot to offer all year round. With four mountains for skiing and snowboarding, it is a winter enthusiasts dream, but like all of the Colorado mountains, it is a perfect destination all year long. Don’t let the rustic exterior fool you, this is a first class destination and it comes with a pretty hefty price tag, but the food and accommodations are all world class.
If you go during the winter and like to ski or snowboard (we ski, the kids all snowboard), you won’t be disappointed. One lift ticket will get you access to Buttermilk, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, and Aspen Mountain. But, if you’re not into skiing, there are plenty of other things to do, such as snowmobiling, going on a horse-drawn carriage ride, or even going snowshoeing. If nothing else, there is always sitting in front of the fire in the lobby of one of the many lodges, sipping wine, and watching the snow fall gracefully from the sky.
We went during the final weekend of ski season last year to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We didn’t do any skiing that weekend, but typical to Colorado, we saw everything from blizzard conditions to sun and warmth. Spring and Fall can always be tricky times to visit the Colorado high country, but we find them to be almost the best times to go as the crowds are definitely not as bad and sometimes the hotels offer discounts to try and bring in a few more tourists.
Summer can be as busy as the winter, with everyone wanting to get out and enjoy the beautiful scenery that Colorado has to offer. There is plenty of hiking, but there is also fun to be had by going to some of the nearby towns, like Minturn, with their old west history. Horseback riding and rafting are also great activities for those that are a little more adventurous. If you don’t want to pay the high price of lodging in Aspen, you can always go camping in Maroon Bells.
Personally, we find Fall to be the perfect time to go into the mountains and we hope to go hiking in Maroon Bells one of these times soon as the Aspen trees there are supposed to be spectacular. Although there is always a chance of an early season snow storm, usually the weather is ideal for getting outside and going hiking and enjoying the incredible colors. The only downside to going during the off-season is that sometimes not all of the stores and restaurants are open as the owners take time off prior to the busy winter season.
The restaurants are some of the best that you can find anywhere. If you enjoy fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere, then Aspen is the place for you. One of the great things about Colorado, and Aspen in particular, is that you can go out in jeans and relatively casual clothes and enjoy a night out at excellent restaurants. The lack of pretense and unnecessary ceremony makes going out to be much more relaxing than other locations. If you’re not a vegetarian, we’d highly recommend getting a steak or some elk while you’re there, it is truly a taste of the west.
If you get the chance, we’d highly recommend visiting Aspen and having an upscale western experience. Whether you go take part in all of the winter sports or are going to enjoy the scenery and go hiking in the beautiful Colorado outdoors.